At what point did the doctors determine you had bipolar? (Part Two: Adolescent Bipolar)

Erika’s Experience

While I have struggled with mental illness from a very young age, doctors only pinned down the Bipolar Diagnosis during December of 2009, when I was thirteen: less than one year ago.  Only a  few months later it was changed to Schizoaffective, Bipolar Type, a disorder that combines Schizophrenic and Mood symptoms. There is no doubt in mind it may change again (to what, God only knows).

Before being diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, I went through a long list of possible primary diagnoses. ADHD, Social Anxiety Disorder, General Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Tendencies, Panic Disorder, “Mood Instability”, Mood Disorder-NOS, Psychotic Disorder-NOS, and Major Depressive Disorder. Some of these diagnoses are still with me; but have been changed to a secondary condition, instead of my main one. Through all of it I have been put on non-stimulant ADHD medications (Strattera), SSRI antidepressants, mood stabilizers., and atypical anti-psychotics. Some worked well for me, while others, medications known for making Bipoalr worsen, caused disaster.

The defining symptom for me was when I began having full-blown, delusional, and dangerous manias. While before it was mainly hypo mania, the low end of complete manias, and mixed states (the mixed states were thew worst) these new manic episodes were impossible to write of as just hyperactive, defiant, irritable, argumentative, and oppositional. They were severe enough that I was completely non-functional, jumping from topic to topic, activity to activity, talking faster than anybody could understand, find extreme hilarity in anything, and essentially doing and saying everything I thought of. The only saving grace was that I was still rapid cycling, so they didn’t last long periods of time. Essentially, I was becoming more “typically” Bipolar, experiencing extreme euphoria instead of irritability and mixed states.

Thus, when I was hospitalized in December 2009, only a week before Christmas, my discharge papers now stated that I was Bipolar Disorder 1, with psychotic features. It was the first time I really felt that a diagnoses truly described me, not just one small part of my symptoms. It’s just a shame that it took so long because of a group of doctors that were still standing in the past, where serious mental illness do happen to kids. They happen to them a lot.

With Love,
Erika

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